Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1598 ..
MS CARNELL (continuing):
this budget ensures greater disclosure and transparency of the Territory's financial positions than before. Mr Speaker, our approach to budgeting is being adopted by every other State in Australia and the Commonwealth Government, so I found it very unusual for the report to be suggesting that we should be somehow reflecting the way the Commonwealth is budgeting - taking into account that they are moving to our style.
Mr Speaker, I commend to the Assembly the Government's response to the Estimates Committee report for the 1998-99 budget. I am sure it will be subject to much debate.
MR KAINE (10.54): Mr Speaker, I have to say that the response by the Chief Minister to the Estimates Committee's report is unacceptable. It seems to imply that nothing that the Estimates Committee has said or suggested to the Government is going to be in any way considered by them. As far as the Chief Minister was concerned, the Estimates Committee process has no value at all and all the recommendations that it has made, on the basis of what the Chief Minister just said, should simply be ignored. Mr Speaker, that, I believe, is an unacceptable response, particularly when the Estimates Committee's report deals with a budget that, despite the Chief Minister's assertions, has not been built on logical decision-making processes at all.
Some of the major matters reflected in this budget are matters of personal whim, or even pique, and I quote as an example the arbitrary cut from the arts funding. It is all very well for the Treasurer, the Chief Minister, to sit up in her office and say, "I have been having a fight with the university for some years over rates and, to get even, I am going to rip $1.6m off their budget", because that is an easy decision to make without any regard whatsoever for what the impact of that cut will be on the budget. It is all very well then to argue after the event, "Why should we fund Federal institutions anyway?". That is the argument that we have been given. The fact is that many of the activities of the School of Art, the Institute of the Arts and the School of Music are not Federal activities at all. They are activities carried out on behalf of the community of the ACT. For the Chief Minister to say in a fit of pique, "Gotcha, to the extent of $1.6m, Mr Vice-Chancellor of the ANU", simply is not good enough.
Another matter that the Chief Minister referred to is the iniquitous insurance levy. The Government decided, apparently, that it wanted a $10m a year increase in revenue, so it cast around to look for an easy way of getting it. It is not going to be an easy way because that legislation, when it comes up for debate, is going to be proved to be inequitable, grossly unfair and, in fact, based on an attempt to deceive the people, who are going to have to pay the levy at the end of the day, as to what it is all about. It is a poorly thought through proposal, Mr Speaker, and the architects of it ought to be ashamed of themselves - that is all I can say. But, of course, the Chief Minister is going to argue that there was no other way of raising this money; it was bringing us into line with New South Wales.
Ms Carnell: It does.